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Covid: Fears delta strain may become dominant in Spain. Experts ponder impact of variant

Jack Troughton | June 21, 2021
Delta Variant

SPANISH health experts believe the delta strain of coronavirus – first detected in India – could become the dominant infection across the country.

The position of the mutation in the UK, where it has spread rapidly because it has an increased transmissibility – and overtook the position of the alpha or Kent variation, currently the prime source of contagion in Spain.

And in Britain the delta variant rapidly went from a handful of cases to being the most common infection. According to Clara Prats, a member of the computational biology and complex systems group at Catalonia’s Polytechnical University it is “the natural dynamic of the epidemic”.

She said: “New variants arrive and when more is more transmissible than the earlier one, it overtakes it; that is what happened with the alpha, first detected in the UK.”

Alex Arenas, an expert at making mathematical models to predict the spread of the virus, believes the delta variant will be dominant in Spain in less than a month; basing his figures on Catalonia, where 20% of new infections are the delta mutant.

“In Spain, the data is not as clear, but based on the spread in Catalonia, it can be inferred that it will be dominant by mid-July,” he said.

Scientists are divided on how the new variant will affect the country they say it depends on restrictions and the response of the public. José Jiménez, an expert on infectious disease at London´s Kings College said: “This is what we saw with the alpha variant. In some places it was said to be more contagious and more lethal based on what we saw in the UK in the earlier wave; however, and fortunately, that was not the case in other countries such as Spain where it became dominant but did not lead to hospitals becoming overwhelmed.”

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Centre for Health Alerts, said: “I don’t think the delta variant will have a significant impact – it could have one, but we don’t want to alarm people more than necessary.”